When Michelle Arsenault was asked to describe her style of books she writes, the West Prince resident paused for a moment to think.
“It’s really hard to narrow down,” she said. “I would say dark fiction. My first couple of books were regular fiction, and I wrote a couple of vampire books. The series I’m currently writing over the last few years is more of a thriller. It’s kind of hard to peg down.”
Ms Arsenault, who goes by the pen name Mima, was always a reader, and always wrote stories growing up. When she was 16, she started her first attempt at a book, something she did because she found she couldn’t relate to the book characters her own age, and didn’t find them to be very compelling.
It wasn’t until 2010 when she published her first book, a self published effort, inspired by the book Still Alice and its author, Lisa Genova.
“The back had a question and answer section, and one of the questions was about that book, which was originally self published,” she said. “I started to look into it because she said it was a good experience for her, and I thought maybe I could do that.”
The ability to publish her works herself appealed to Ms Arsenault for several reasons. For starters, getting published can be a long process, and if a writer wants to go with a larger publisher,they need an agent. Not only that, the author needs to be careful about who they sign with, and what their contract entails. Ms Arsenault said she just wanted to write her own thing, and put it out the way she wanted to.
Ms Arsenault has published 15 books at this point, ranging in a variety of subjects, from vampires, musicians, homelessness, Indigenous rights, racism, and more.
“I’m not scared to write about anything if it’s controversial,” she said. “My (current) series is about criminals essentially getting away with their crimes, there’s a lot of corruption, they work with the government. It probably is a little controversial, but I like that, I find it interesting, and I think it’s kind of fun.”
When it comes to writing, Ms Arsenault said she doesn’t overly plan things, preferring to go with the flow and see where it takes her. This in turn can lead to unexpected places for the characters, places Ms Arsenault herself wasn’t expecting to go. With her current series, she started out thinking it was just going to be one book, because she was just interested in one character. Then another character caught her eye, and she wanted to learn more about him, which turned into another book, then another, and so on.
“You’re always wanting to learn about these characters, you’re always wanting to see what they’re going to do next, what’s next for them,” she explained. “If there’s children in the book, you get to see them grow up. You want to follow the adventure with them, just like if you’re watching a TV show or reading a book.”